Mary’s comment was detailed and honest and truly a pleasure to read, so we’ll start with that:
“I rarely buy books. Having a library card and a mom who is a librarian make sure of that. I’m sure authors HATE people who pick up $.25 books at book sales.
I don’t always finish. Yeah, you are supposed to finish what you start, but sometimes the book is so awful that I just can’t bear to have my reading time wasted this way. (Instead, I go on line and read the spoilers so I know what happened.)
If I am going to shell out money for books, I read a lot of reviews first.
I hate when authors force it: I love a beautiful, artfully constructed sentence. Truly I do. Tender is the Night? Swoon-worthy. But there is a difference between carefully choosing words and blinding the reader with meaningless razzle-dazzle. Does the author think I won’t notice that I’m being bludgeoned with such heavy-handedness that there is nothing to the imagination? I am reading a book now where the criticism (I paid for it so I read a lot of reviews first) has much to do with the author’s bizarre “dazzle them with words” turns of phrase. Every time I find one of these phrases, I get oddly giddy, yet seriously distracted.
I am suspicious of readers/commentators who, with a force of conviction that should be reserved for issues of, say, morality, try to glean “great life lessons” from most books. Life of Pi as the guide to enlightenment? Hmmm. Sure, I may sound shallow or sophomoric… until you consider that Watership Down isn’t really a book about the conflict between individualism and the corporate state. The author said it was a bunny story created to keep his kids quiet on car trips.”
Now for my guilty reading pleasures I probably wouldn’t want an author to know:
1. I like to tell the author aloud the flaws in his or her story. My most recent being, “Just end it, Dan Brown.”
2. Finding flaws at all is a thrill. Probably because it reminds me that no one’s writing is perfect.
3. I rarely buy books either.
4. The way the book smells or how the pages feel factor in to my decision whether or not to check it out of the library. Certainly the same would apply if I was looking to buy.
5. I will finish a book, even if I hate it. If someone asks what I thought of the book, I’ll be honest.
6. I skim or skip passages I don’t like. Even in books on CD.
7. I rarely read a book more than once.
8. Every author gets one shot. If I don’t like the first book of theirs I read, I don’t try again.
Maybe knowing there are readers out there like Mary and me will help my writing. So, though I wouldn’t want authors to know these things, maybe they should. What else should they (we) know? Share next week.